Waving out the open windows of a speeding supercharged boogie van fueled by riffs and secondhand smoke, Swedish stoner rockers Ponamero Sundown don’t care if it’s grass, gas or ass — everyone rides for free. As they issue their first full-length following several demos, the aptly-titled Stonerized (Transubstans), this fuzzsome foursome emit 12 tracks of classic ’90s-style stoner groove brought into the 21st Century with modern production and slick tones.
There’s a little bit of everything within the genre of stone, and even some elements drawn from without — the chorus riff of “Curtain Call,” for example, seems to be culled from Annie Lennox‘s “Sweet Dreams” — but mostly one can point to a riff or a segment and place it somewhere within the canon. “Rotten Religion” is a little darker, but “Live the Lie” sparks a bowl of And the Circus Left Town-era Kyuss and “Doctor of Evil” resonates old Dozer and Truckfighters‘ thoughtful neo-fuzz. It’s a balance of what you’d expect and what you’d probably expect a little less. Some Colour Haze-style guitar leads the way for “Intermission (Heartbreak Disease),” which ultimately warps into a The Awesome Machine-style build. Ponamero Sundown mix it all well enough to come out with an individual sound, if one well in place within its scene.
The more aggressive “Double You” (you’ll never guess who that’s about) is unique in its political bent, though even raucous opener “Alcoholic Deathride” could be said to have a vaguely social element to it. The rest of the material manages to avoid the, “Let’s sing about space and big boobs,” trap ably, with even a cut like “The Race” having more to it than pure stoner cliche. Of course, there’s a little bit of that as well, but presented in the burly package of “Hell Sent,” there’s nothing offensive in the Stonerized arsenal one way or the other. Moments border on party rock of the Fu Manchu variety, but Ponamero Sundown keep an effective balance of mood and tone.
Stonerized closes with a soft, instrumental title-track, and listening to it, I wish more of those elements had been incorporated into the songs that came before. That might push Ponamero Sundown into uber-Truckfighters territory, but if they concentrate enough on making their songwriting their own, it might not be a bad place to go from. As it stands, though, their debut offers all the familiar trappings of a quality stoner rock record, and turns out to be just that. How that carries over to next time is next time’s problem — for now, Stonerized rocks with catchy riffs, surprisingly diverse (like Seemless without the screaming) vocals and enough swagger to pull it all off and leave listeners smiling as the disc comes round to repeat. Anyone yearning for unabashed fuzz worship — consider yourself advised.
Tags: Ponamero Sundown, Sweden, Transubstans